The Chickasaw are an indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands. Their traditional territory was in the Southeastern United States of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. They are of the Muskogean language family and are federally recognized as the Chickasaw Nation.
Sometime prior to the first European contact, the Chickasaw migrated from western regions and moved east of the Mississippi River, where they settled mostly in present-day northeast Mississippi. That is where they encountered European explorers and traders, having relationships with French, English and Spanish during the colonial years. The United States considered the Chickasaw one of the Five Civilized Tribes, as they adopted numerous practices of European Americans. Resisting European-American settlers encroaching on their territory, they were forced by the US to sell their country in 1832 and move to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) during the era of Indian Removal in the 1830s.
Most Chickasaw now live in Oklahoma. The Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma is the 13th largest federally recognized tribe in the United States. Its members are related to the Choctaw and share a common history with them. The Chickasaw are divided in two groups (moieties): the Impsaktea and the Intcutwalipa. They traditionally followed a system of matrilineal descent, in which children were considered to be part of the mother's clan, whence they gained their status. Some property was controlled by women, and hereditary leadership in the tribe passed through the maternal line.